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THE SECRETS OF THE NCL HAVEN LUXURY EXPERIENCE

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This content is very long and detailed. It was designed to give a perspective on the sometimes controversial NCL Haven Luxury Experience.  Prior to booking the Haven, the information on it was incomplete and or an advertisement.  It costs a lot and I wanted more before I was willing to pay the premium. So I wrote this.  I hope it is helpful.  If not, please don't be TO CRUEL!!!!

 

As a frequent cruiser, I research my experience prior to taking all my cruises.  This trait, provides me with a high level of enjoyment.  It allows me to visualize my cruise even before it happens.  For me personality, it also allows me to take care of details ahead of time. Now I can relax from the first second of my cruising experience throughout its conclusion.  Of recently, my wife and I have chosen to attempt to improve our cruise experience by upgrading our cabins to suites levels sometimes in exclusive sections of a larger cruise ship (Reference: NCL Haven; Celebrity Suite).  This trend on our part, started about 10 years ago, when we entered into our 50's.  We started the trend with Holland America Line (HAL), then to Celebrity Cruises and now NCL.  In the cruising industry, the last 10 years has shown a rise in the popularity exclusive suites/ship area’s; also, the perks and amenities these premium cabins provide.

Before I go on, a special note.  My wife and I, for the first time are taking the jump from Main-stream cruise brands (NCL, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America), to an ultra-premium brand in 2020, Oceania Cruises.  This is a first for us and we made this decision because our best friends booked a European cruise and asked us to join. The ship is smaller, it is a different cruising experience then the huge 4000 plus passenger’s ships.  These sailings are also mostly adults due to investment, entertainment, food and accommodations. The ship sailings focus much more on itinerary, since small ships can get into different much more unique ports.  The brand we choose was Oceania Cruises, which is a sister to NCL and the Luxury brand of Regents Seven Seas.  All this for the quest of the best cruise experience possible.

Most recently in November 2018, my family and I went on the Celebrity Equinox in a cabin upgraded cabin level called the “Celebrity Suite”.  This included access to the ships Michael's Club and the “Suites Only” restaurant called the “Luminae”. This upgraded category also provided a butler.  Michael's club was a small, quite private lounge with a full bar. During the day it would provide little appetizers and treats. Even though it was small, I loved this private little hangout perk. The Suites only restaurant, Luminae, was the best restaurant on the ship by far. This is including the so-called specialty restaurants. The Butler was a non-issue because we simply did not know how to utilize their services effectively.  This brings us to topics of this document, “Secrets to the NCL Haven Experience”.

If you don't already know, the NCL Haven is a "Ship within a Ship" concept.  It allows, for a premium investment, a certain level of exclusivity and privacy without taking away a large cruise ship experience.  Another word, you can have a private pool, padded lounge chairs, hot tubs, bars, restaurants, and butler. You can also have complete access to all other amenities that a large ship provides.  Some cruisers get very upset with these special and restricted premium areas.  They don't understand why the cruise ship brands, allow this to happen.  Why they can’t have access to the entire ship for the cruise investment they have made.

The answer is quite simple.  The average cost for an inside state room, is about $499.00 per person (not including taxes & fees).  The lowest cost for a Haven Suite is approximately $2,099.00 per person on average. The cruise brands profit much more on a Haven type level guest.  Even more interesting is these exclusive special guest area suites sell out very quickly.  If a guest can afford the premium, the question, is it worth it? You first must know what are some secrets to getting all the value you can, from the NCL Haven Luxury Experiences.  Here are just a few:

  • Pre-Cruise Haven Concierge Desk Requests:

When you book the Haven luxury experience, approximately 60-days prior to your sail date, you get a U.S. mail letter from NCL.  In the envelope are special luggage tags (I will discuss this next) and a letter requesting any special requests. You can communication these request via a special 800 number or send an email.  I always choose to send an email due to my many requests.

My always “pre-thought-out” email, addressed things I would normally ask for, when I arrive on the ship.  40-years of cruising experience, helped my preparation greatly. My Haven requests included, but were not limited to:

  1. Extension cord, power strip & sterilized water for my CPAP machine.

  2. Removal of all “Extra Cost” or “For Sale” items from our suite. I hate being nickeled and dimed on a cruise.

  3. Dietary considerations, as it related to afternoon snacks/teas provided. My wife and I are on Keto. In our opinion, a big perk of the Haven luxury experience is this lovely pre-dinner snacks.

  4. Adjustments for specialty restaurant dates and times, prior to cruise. As long-time cruisers, we always pre-book our specialty restaurants online the moment reservations are accepted.  The times as well as dates for these reservations, were not acceptable. The Haven guest have priority.

  5. Cruiser personality profile are provided, allowing our butler to knew about us, prior to the cruise. We don’t want our butler to have to read our minds.  This is somewhat over the top, I know. However, has gotten great results in the past.

Think about how much less stress, you would feel if you had some of these issues handled pre-cruise.  The NCL Haven luxury experience gives you this opportunity, for a price of course.

  • Haven Layout of Private Sundeck:

From a frequent cruiser stand point, this little perk is much more then it seems to be at face value. Let me explain my three (3) key points.

  1. Cushioned Private Lounge Chairs: The lounge chairs have soft nice cushions on them, which is a great plus yet, not the biggest benefit.  The fact that you always have enough sunning lounge chairs with GREAT views, is the major plus.  Unlike the distasteful fact that many cruise guest, wake up early in the morning to put considerable efforts to reserve a pool side lounge chair for their all-day usage.  Chairs that are often unoccupied most of the day.  For me, just not dealing with this situation, is almost worth the entire premium paid for the Haven. Boy I can tell you stories about this one. I love a good argument, just not on a cruise vacation.

  2. Bar Service While Lounging at Haven Pool or Sundeck: The Haven pool/hot tubs are usually very close to the Haven bar.  This is not the case on the smaller ships like the Pearl, so they make up for it by having attendants cruise the Haven pool/sundeck area often.  I am not ashamed to tell everyone reading this document, I tip servers, especially by the pool and bartenders on day one.  I do this much more for my wife benefit, then for myself.  My wife is an introvert and won’t ask for anything. I want her service to be over-the-top because selfishly I want her to want to come on another cruise.  If she is not by the Haven pool and is instead up the short set of steps to the private Haven Sundeck; I want that server to check on her drink situation often.  When my wife is HAPPY, I am HAPPY.   

  3. Haven Restaurant: Just like my reference to the Celebrity Suite Only restaurant, the Haven Restaurant is known as the best food on the ship.  What you must remember, its menu is fixed and does not change from night to night.  The best strategy is to eat in the Haven Restaurant on the first night of cruising. This allows you to get a feel for the food, service, menu and make relationships with the staff.  This holds true for breakfast and lunch on day two as well.  A couple of notes.

    1. The smaller ships like the NCL Pearl do not have Haven Restaurants or bars.  They provide exclusive use of a specialty restaurant for breakfast and lunch for their Haven guest.  They do have a smaller scaled down version of the Haven pool, hot tub and sundeck.

    2. Most cruise lines have a sale for the first evening of sailing. They reduce the cost for the specialty restaurants by excess of 30% if you go the very first night.  I chose not to do this, yet know it could be available if I would so choose.

    3. If you don’t like what is on the Haven Restaurant Menu, tell your server in the afternoon you want something else and they will do their best to have it for you.  The best examples are steaks, lunch menu double pork chops, salmon and the list go on.  Ask and you will receive.

  4. The Haven Bar: This is no ordinary bar.  As a percentage, most Haven guest receive the “Premium Beverage Package” perk.  In addition, most Haven adult guest upgrade that beverage package to the “Premium Plus Beverage Package”. The Haven bar knows this and is a kind of unique mixology experience bar.  There is a very nice video on YouTube titled, the Haven Bar, that give you an example.  My routine is to fine my favorite bar on a cruise ship and make great friends of the bartender.  When in the Haven, this is a no-brainer.

  5. Embarkations & Lunch: My history, 40 years ago, was to cruise with the least expensive cabin possible.  That is when deals were available, and cruises were not 4,000 plus guests. I have stood on all the very long embarkation and debarkation lines.  Initially, I just thought it added to the excitement of the cruise experience.  This was until, of course, I could avoid these lines completely.  Then I realized I was missing some quite special treatment.  With your Haven luxury experience, your embarkation is quick, smooth, professional and personalized.  You are escorted to the Haven lounge or specific specialty restaurant, provided with “ship snacks”, drinks and can also have lunch at the Haven Restaurant (space available). Careful though, get to the Haven Restaurant early, they get super busy, fast.  That is where I beeline too.  I also meet the host/hostess.  If they have a wait, here is what I say.

“I fully understand if you are booked up.  Busy exciting day for everyone.  My wife and I are going to have a drink at the bar. We will wait there, if you have a no show or cancelation.”

I then shake their hand with a $10.00 bill in my hand. I never miss.  Sorry if anyone does not approve.  I have done this for years. I used to get upset, but now I get seated for lunch and the rest of the week I get lots of smiles. All I say is that, “I am on vacation!”.

  1. Escorts to Shows and Debarkation:

    1. Shows: There are special seating for Haven guest, at most shows.  I do not take advantage of this perk ever.  I always sit in the back of the theatre, on the end of the row. This allows my wife and I to leave any show, without making a scene.  It also gives me quicker access to bathrooms and closest bars.  The bar service in a show is, well, not great.

    2. Debarkation while at a Port: There is a special exit that is quick and seamless from most ships accommodating Haven Guests.  Especially nice when you need to get to a tour, quickly. You might be late or want to get to the beach before the crowds.  The same special treatment happens when re-boarding the cruise ship after the excursion.

  2. Haven Select Elevators Access:  The Haven is usually located on the top floors of the ship.  There is one specific elevator that is specially coded to go directly to the Haven area.  All you do is use your access key card.  Watch out though, this deletes the other floors, other guests might have checked prior to your arrival in the elevator. Always play nice.  Regardless, a very nice perk.

  3. Haven Spa Suite:  This is a little hint to some of us out there.  When you book a spa suite, in the Haven, the special spa access comes with it as a perk.  The Haven spa suite, is on the same level as the ships spa itself.  The spa on the larger ships, have special heated tile loungers that view the ocean.  Sauna, steam, showers, and salt rooms.  The highlight is a very special indoor spa heated bathing hot tub.  This area is limited to 18 and older.  It only accessible to those with spa suites, Haven or otherwise, and a few passed that can be purchased.  The Haven spa suite also has a huge jacuzzi big enough for two in your suite, with a view of the ocean.  Finally, unlike other spa suites, you also have access to the Haven which is two decks up.  The down side is the suite is a much smaller sq. then other Haven suite. The per guest expense is also the lowest investment they offer Haven suite for.

  4. Butler Services:  I read a lot of review of folks that simply don’t utilize their butlers.  I did the same, the first time I had a butler. It was we did not know what to ask for and they feel uncomfortable asking for special services. What a waste of a great services opportunity that you could never get in real everyday life. I researched what a Butler will and won’t do. 

    1. What the butlers won’t do:

      1. They won’t watch your kids, when you go out for an evening. 

      2. They won’t spend all day, escorting you around the ship. 

      3. They won’t be your date, for a show or dinner.

      4. They won’t bring your adult beverages to the room, unless they are charging the cost to the suite.

They will do almost any small task you ask, within reason.  Here are a few things I have had my Butlers do, to enhance my families cruising experience.  Before I provide my list, please know I tip my Butler between $100 and $150 per seven-day cruise, depending on service requested and provided during the week.

    1. What the Butler will do:

      1. Unpack Your Bags When You Arrive: This is a request I never ask. To some folks, this is a great benefit.  Up to you, just know it is a request that is totally fine.

      2. Parties in Our Suites: This depends on the size of our suite and balcony.  My next cruise, we have a Haven Spa Suite. Lovely however to small for parties.  If you are in a two-bedroom or owner’s suite, party hardy with all your new friends or family. One of my fondest memories was the huge balcony had with all my extended family singing show tunes.  If on my next cruise with my smaller suite, I want to entertain, I will ask the butler to have it setup in a part of the Haven lounge, if, those guests are also Haven guest.  If you are not in the Haven, you are not getting into the Haven lounge, bar, pool, or restaurants; PERIOD. 

      3. Dinning in your Suite: NCL charges for room service to the tune of $8.00 plus per service.  It is fair, but takes away from the notion of all inclusive cruise.  This fee is complementary because you have a Butler.  The Haven suite room service menu, is also much better then the other cabins.  Your butler will serve you in courses as if you were in the restaurant. You can choose any restaurant including specialty restaurants, if, you have paid that specialty restaurants fee. A little hint about breakfast. I pre-print my breakfast requests on an index card and bring them with me on my cruises.  I staple them to the door room service menu and give my butler a heads up.  Finally, please remember, Room Service for Breakfast sounds good on paper.  It is so much better just to go to the Haven Restaurant.  My biggest reason for saying this is the “French Press” coffee on your table, hotter food and the breakfast side buffet that is super special for the Haven guests.

      4. Afternoon Snacks: Not that we all need more food; yet an afternoon snack is kind of nice.  My wife and I are on the Keto diet.  We lost a ton of weight and love all the foods this diet provides us.  However, the normal afternoon fair, usually is not Keto friendly.  So, we outline what is and is not keto for our butler.  For an example, a meat, cheese, nut, and raw vegie plate would be great.  Key word small plate, just a taste. Tell me if that does not sound awesome as an option? Loss the complementary chocolate dipped strawberries, tasteless so called Belgian chocolate on the pillow, basket of fruit that never gets eaten and cheap champagne. Time to custom design your cruise around just enough however great quality options. Your call.

      5. Shows and Specialty Restaurant Reservations: This is done by the Haven Concierge, not your butler.  The Concierge will absolutely pull some strings to get you a reservation and or change your reservation you have made.  I need to have some dates and times changed, for some specialty restaurants I booked 60 days out.  I also want one of my specialty restaurant reservations outside over-looking the ocean. 

      6. Extra Towels in your Suite: We all ask for extra towels from time to time.  I know I have, haven’t you?  However, my room steward was so busy, I would get the towels eventually.  This does not happen with Butlers.  They get them right away or have them in your room when you ask.  Remember, butlers do lots of stuff behind the scenes. Yet their tips are all about what you give them at the end of the week.  They do not participate in the tips taken out of your account.

      7. NOTE: Adult Beverages in Your Suite: NOT going to happen.  Policy for NCL (and other cruise lines) won’t allow your butler to bring drinks or bottles unless you pay for them on your account.  One acceptations, the initial bottle of champagne on day one.

  1. Children in the Haven Area: This is NOT a benefit, it can be a very negative aspect to the Haven.  During Holiday cruises, when school is out, families with the financial means book Haven Two & Three Bedroom Suites.  You can have up to 6 cruisers in each suite.  Therefore, a family can really take all the kids.  The cruise specials usually allow 3 & 4 passengers free. The kids end up taking over the Haven pool and hot tubs areas. Even though the signs are clearly posted not to run, noise, jump or splash; the kids can’t help themselves.  They are usually unsupervised and can be unruly. When this happens, you can go up to the Haven private sun lounge where it is 18 years or older to have accesses. I am the person that WILL let the Haven staff know this issue on day one.  If it persists, I will say something to the parents, whom react differently based on their children’s entitlement issues. The cruise line is in a rock-and-a-hard-place on this topic.

      1. NOTE: On my upcoming cruise, in my special requests pre-cruise.  I outlined this situation with children very clearly.  I know the staff already gets lots of complaints about this from Haven guests.  I asked for a professional courtesy in my written request.  The Larger NCL cruise ships have a special area called the “Vibe Beach Club”.  It has a special access card and only a very few cruise guests have access.  It has a bar, hot tubs and cushioned lounge chairs.  It access is 18-year-old or older all the time.  You must pay $200.00 per guest to get it and they have very limited passes.  It is completely unnecessary, if the Haven luxury experience is as advertised. It is common knowledge that the Concierge desk have a few passes for Haven guest at a price.  I feel they should include the “Vibe Beach Club” because we would not use the area, unless the kids take over our premium area.

Conclusion:

We all must make the decision, if an exclusive area like the NCL Haven is worth the premium investment it demands.  For my family’s needs, yes it does.  For many, it does not.  It is nice to have the option, without having to double your cruise fare again, to go on an Ultra-Premium or Luxury Cruise line.  I personally love the big ships and the feel it gives us when you see it and venture through it.  I don’t want the crowds 24/7, therefore the NCL Haven gives us the best of both worlds.

I can’t leave this conclusion section, without saying a few more words.  Cruises are what you make of them.  Attitude makes a cruise.  Finding compatible new friends will make a cruise.  What we all must understand; no cruise is perfect. Things happen, crew members, like any other humans, have good and bad days.  I believe the best cruises are really the obligation of the cruiser. 

This might sound crazy I know.  I have personally experiences during dinning, show, excursion and entire cruise experiences suffer, because of one issue or interaction with a crew member or fellow passenger.  I have come to realize that no amount of research, will match my perfect visualization of what a cruise should be.  There is no perfect cruise, just the next one in the future. 

I hope this information helps some folks enjoy their next cruise experience.  Whether you go with a NCL Haven luxury experience; Celebrity suites or any other brands upper level experience, you now know what to expect.  Be well and stay healthy.

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 Very thoughtful review.

I don’t go to the lengths you do to let the staff know precruise what we want, as we’ve found that simply telling the butler and stateroom attendant what we need on day one gets the job done. 

And as far as tipping on day one, I don’t find it necessary. I am genuinely grateful and appreciative each time someone does something for me, and greet everyone with a smile. I get great service without having to tip up front. I only tip at the end of the cruise. I find being friendly and saying thank you and please keeps the bar servers coming around when on the Haven sundeck.

 

The thing Haven cruisers, really ALL cruisers need to remember is that these are hard working people and not your personal slaves. Sadly I’ve seen fellow cruisers treat them horribly.

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Appreciated the review. I think the solution to the issue of parents bringing the whole family and kids running amok in the Haven is to steer the parents to Disney. Not really something NCL wants to do though but they have a great experience for kids and parents on that line, from what I have been told by relatives.

 

Another option is to book during the seasons when most kids are in school.

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Well said.  As a suite cruiser, the points you made are extremely accurate to expectation for your Butler.  Our last cruise we had the butler deliver the arrival champagne to our LeBistro dinner on night 3 and in room dinner twice after long excursion days.  For those, we made it easy for the butler by ordering food early (day before in one case), so everyone on the food service side would be locked in.  Communication goes a long way.

 

As to the Vibe comment, would be interesting to have an upgrade in the Haven package for this much like a Spa suite.

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Thanks for the detailed breakdown! My family and I just returned from our first Haven experience (my kids definitely didn't take over the pool or cause noise - they LOVED the quietness of the area). I was a little doubtful about the price tag and, to be honest, I'm sure we didn't take full advantage of the perks. However, just to have that quiet space to hang out and the private restaurant/bar more than justified it for me!

 

I should add that the priority embarkation really never happened for us. Our cruise was an anomaly and check in didn't open until 7pm - there was no priority for haven until around 8:30pm when the concierge finally came through gathering us up from the general waiting area. By that time, there were already at least 1000 non Haven guests on the ship. This was a little disappointing as it was one of the primary reasons I booked Haven for this sailing - knowing the late check in time, I wanted to be onboard quickly to get the kids in bed! This obviously didn't happen, BUT I know this was a one off and the rest of the service certainly made up for it!

 

We did utilize the pre-cruise concierge and emailed a request to have our mini bar emptied and a pitcher of iced tea and orange juice kept in there. We also requested no chocolate strawberries and no seafood for snacks. These requests were met without any issue! We only did room service breakfast once - it was great, but we like to just wake up whenever and not be committed to a time. We didn't take advantage of the other room service options because there was so much going on elsewhere! The kids LOVED the free on demand movies and tv - another great perk! The bar in Haven was outstanding - after the first drink, the bartender knew my name and always welcomed me. The same can be said of the host at the restaurant. The pool area and lounge (Bliss) were so quiet and relaxing and I LOVED the sun deck - took advantage of it whenever the kids went to kids club! We only utilized the concierge for disembarking in San Francisco as I knew from the previous year what immigration lines were like. Even with priority it still took us 40 minutes to get through - others who were non-Haven took over 2 hours! We booked our specialty dining and shows ahead of time so didn't need assistance with any of that, but it was good to know we could get help if needed!

 

My conclusions from my first Haven is that I don't know if I could ever go back to not sailing Haven on the big ships. Until I sailed Haven, I never realized just how loud, crowded, and overwhelming they were - lol. Even my kids much preferred chilling by the pool, reading a book in the Haven to battling for a lounger and dealing with the noise on the pool deck!

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Everyone has their own financial priorities and what is “worth the $” to them, and it’s all individual.  My hubby will ONLY sail Haven.  Period.  He is so satisfied with this product he won’t even look elsewhere, and he is a very difficult traveler.  For him, the “ship within a ship”, the lack of crowds, uncrowded sundeck, access to a (usually) empty hot tub, bar only a few steps away, private restaurant that caters to his pickiness, being able to eat in the room and order whatever he wants, priority embarkation/debarkation at ports is worth every penny.

 

Others may not put this much value on it, and that’s fine.  We are all different.  For us, we are very happy with the product.  The blips we have had are due more to staff (mediocre butler or concierge) than the Haven itself; had either been enough of an issue we’d have complained but both were minor in the scheme of things.

 

We have three more Haven cruises booked, thanks to the 20% off Latitudes promotion, and very much looking forward to all three.

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An excellent and very accurate review of what the Haven experience has to offer. We have enjoyed the Haven now on three different ships, on six different cruises and with and without young adults with us and have loved every minute of it.

 

The service that we received from the staff in the Haven was second to none and how our two sons were treated by the different butlers looking after us on the various cruises was above and beyond. All Haven members made it a truly memorable experience.

 

If the Haven experience is within your budget it is worth every penny 

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First time Haven-er Question:

 

We received some specialty dining with our reservation.   Does anyone actually order a specialty dinner to be served in the Haven?  And if so, who do you contact and how would you organize that?

 

Thanks

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6 minutes ago, themutis said:

First time Haven-er Question:

 

We received some specialty dining with our reservation.   Does anyone actually order a specialty dinner to be served in the Haven?  And if so, who do you contact and how would you organize that?

 

Thanks

The butler would take care of the meal in your room.  Mention it to them you would like to get a menu for the specialty restaurant or regular restaurant you would like food from.  You could order from different places, though no guarantee it would be hot at the same time.  Usually won’t work with sushi as they say u can’t get that.

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I am sure that you have done your research on Oceania but just in case would offer a tip.  The older Oceania ships (all but the Marina and Riviera) have very small bathrooms unless you are in a Penthouse.  The bathrooms in Marina and Riviera are just great.  Although we have loved every cruise that we have been on, our current favorites sound similar to yours: NCL Haven, Celebrity Suites and Oceania.

 

Think that you will really enjoy Oceania especially the food.

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Thanks for taking the time to write all that up!  VERY helpful!  Although I have been in a suite on NCL before I've never been aboard a ship with the Haven experience.  Looking forward to seeing how it compares to Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity suite experience.

 

BTW.....currently 35 days from sailing date and no letter from NCL yet....

Edited by chill6x6
added info

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Wonderful summary and insight into what my family and I think is the only way to sail on the larger ships. 

We love the Haven so much - it's not just the perks and pampering (though that, admittedly is awesome), it's just the feeling that you are having a very private 5 star-hotel on water experience without any stress. No lines, no worries - I agree it's a great way to travel. 

With a 10 yo, we will not be on the luxury liners any time soon, but look forward to hearing abut your experiences. 

Amy

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Thanks for the detailed Haven experience. I plan to use your post as my guide and not feel bad about making my unusual requests. 14 days and counting!

 

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16 hours ago, ronbe65 said:

Thanks for a well put thoughts and tips for dedicated Haven guests.

My note is for the rest of cruising passengers.

Please note that "Haven" product quality varies dramatically from ship to ship.

I personally wouldn't consider paying an extra dollar for the Haven unless it's Bliss/Joy/Encore, i.e. ships with the observation lounge.

None of 7-day Caribbean cruises is worth more than $800.00 pp. No exception.

There is nothing superficial or magic in the Haven experience.

It all depends on the personal perception of exclusivity and privacy.

A luxury price tag is often a pass to so-called "luxury" ships or "ship-within-a-ship"gimmickry, but not always to 5* cruising experience.

That said, I confirm that NCL haven product (limited to Bliss/Joy/Encore) is an excellent product that exceeds 4.5* mark. yes, this product is among a few best at sea.

Another key to understanding the Haven experience: we cannot evaluate it separately form the rest of the ship. The Haven is just an enclave has to be complemented by other amenities on the ship (spa, fitness, pools, open promenades, dining options, shows). As to the Bliss/Joy/Encore Haven experience, the lack of adequate pools, crowded fitness center, and horrible open deck design (in case of Encore) prevents it from being 5*.

Dreaming of a luxury cruising?

Look around. A 5* cruising experience (instead of "luxury") may be next to you and cost you some 50-70% less.

 

The Haven area on the Bliss, Joy and Encore might have nicer features such as the observation lounge, but unfortunately they are connected to the rest of the burning dumpster fires that are the Bliss, Joy and Encore.

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We have sailed Jade, Epic, and Bliss havens and personally enjoyed all three.  Jade haven was minimal, but it was a haven.  Not sure if it was worth the extra upcharge over suites, but hubby was happy and THAT was worth the upcharge.  Epic haven was lovely, and even the other folks up-thread like the Bliss Haven.

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Thanks for the great overview.  I am taking my first cruise in December, and booked into a Haven stateroom-an H8 (Forward Haven Suite-Connecting).

 

One thing that does concern me as I am outside the Haven area, is the Butler.  How responsive they will be?  I've seen comment on here for those in the Aft and Fwd suites that they never saw their butler.  I intend to use my Butler (since I am paying for it!) and have started to compile a list of things I would like.  

 

What if my Butler is one of these MIA butlers?  I'd expect to meet them within a few hours of being onboard, and I would tip them appropriately for the services they provide.  I wouldn't ask them to do too much, but there are a couple of daily things that are important to me, and the Butler service was one of the main reasons I went with booking into the Haven.

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On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 11:20 AM, justhappy said:

 Very thoughtful review.

I don’t go to the lengths you do to let the staff know precruise what we want, as we’ve found that simply telling the butler and stateroom attendant what we need on day one gets the job done. 

And as far as tipping on day one, I don’t find it necessary. I am genuinely grateful and appreciative each time someone does something for me, and greet everyone with a smile. I get great service without having to tip up front. I only tip at the end of the cruise. I find being friendly and saying thank you and please keeps the bar servers coming around when on the Haven sundeck.

 

The thing Haven cruisers, really ALL cruisers need to remember is that these are hard working people and not your personal slaves. Sadly I’ve seen fellow cruisers treat them horribly.

Thank you for the kind words.  No one should ever treat a member of the crew horribly, yet I also have seen it happen.  My tipping approach was because my love of my life (wife) who is the kindest person I have ever met, was not being taken care of in previous cruises.  My tips initially is much more for her, then I.  Also, and this is very important, I still ALWAY tip at the end of the cruise, always have.  The crew spend months away from their families.  Many depend on those tips and work extremely hard.  I wish the cruise ship paid them more but that is the economics of cruise brands.  I knew saying what I did about tipping upfront would get me some push back. Just something I learned and my pleasure to do. 

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On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 11:32 AM, salty dingo said:

Appreciated the review. I think the solution to the issue of parents bringing the whole family and kids running amok in the Haven is to steer the parents to Disney. Not really something NCL wants to do though but they have a great experience for kids and parents on that line, from what I have been told by relatives.

 

Another option is to book during the seasons when most kids are in school.

I agree totally and completely with every word you said.  I guess we all know what is going to happen on a holiday cruise.  I know I do.  So, by saying what I did, it almost makes it ok when it happens.  Weird I know.  Again, I completely agree with your post.

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3 hours ago, nyc2pdx said:

Thanks for the great overview.  I am taking my first cruise in December, and booked into a Haven stateroom-an H8 (Forward Haven Suite-Connecting).

 

One thing that does concern me as I am outside the Haven area, is the Butler.  How responsive they will be?  I've seen comment on here for those in the Aft and Fwd suites that they never saw their butler.  I intend to use my Butler (since I am paying for it!) and have started to compile a list of things I would like.  

 

What if my Butler is one of these MIA butlers?  I'd expect to meet them within a few hours of being onboard, and I would tip them appropriately for the services they provide.  I wouldn't ask them to do too much, but there are a couple of daily things that are important to me, and the Butler service was one of the main reasons I went with booking into the Haven.

I just got off Bliss, in an aft Haven suite. Our butler was excellent - she was ALWAYS around if we needed her, but invisible when we didn't! I wouldn't worry too much about the fact you are outside of the Haven. We didn't have an issue at all - all of our requests were fulfilled without any issue!

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4 hours ago, nyc2pdx said:

One thing that does concern me as I am outside the Haven area, is the Butler.  How responsive they will be?  I've seen comment on here for those in the Aft and Fwd suites that they never saw their butler.  I intend to use my Butler (since I am paying for it!) and have started to compile a list of things I would like. 

 

Butlers rotate their assigned area every few weeks. You might get a great one. 

The butler, not the location, is important. 

You will have your cordless phone and can call the butler from anywhere on the ship. 

 

 

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LThanks for the valuable haven info. Coming up on my first haven and my Brides second. 

 

I too enjoy the bars as I've been known to start a conversation with anybody who will listen to me,  lol!

 

And we tip for each service instead of the beginning and end.  Bride saves one's and fives prior to sailing. For sum we are satisfied for the service and attention and I personally believe  the servers give us priority.  

 

Getting close to our November Bliss!

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The comment about "kids running amok in the Haven" has me a little concerned.  Does this scenario happen frequently in the Haven?  We are cruising the second week in December. 

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1 hour ago, Two Wheels Only said:

 

Butlers rotate their assigned area every few weeks. You might get a great one. 

The butler, not the location, is important. 

You will have your cordless phone and can call the butler from anywhere on the ship. 

 

 

Thanks.  I'll just keep my fingers crossed! 

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1 hour ago, ceilidh1 said:

I just got off Bliss, in an aft Haven suite. Our butler was excellent - she was ALWAYS around if we needed her, but invisible when we didn't! I wouldn't worry too much about the fact you are outside of the Haven. We didn't have an issue at all - all of our requests were fulfilled without any issue!

This makes me feel much better-the Aft suites are even further from the Haven than the FWD ones (where I am).  I can't wait!

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